This weeks recipe in my series of “High Volume, Low Calorie” meals is a veganised version of Greg Doucette’s popular “Anabolic French Toast” Recipe. Greg Doucette is a highly prominent YouTuber and bodybuilder who is all about this “High Physical Volume, Low Calorie Density” approach that I have been talking about. His “Anabolic Diet” contains recipes that focus on recreating classic foods in a way that reduces fat content (and therefore overall calories) while increasing the physical volume of the meal. Being a professional bodybuilder he has a tendency to encourage exceptionally high protein levels (hence the “Anabolic” title), which I personally believe are in excess of what most people need. These high protein levels are usually reached by consuming many egg whites or scoops of protein powder. Both foods which we wouldn’t have had access to in nature, making reaching macronutrient ratios like this with such high protein levels unheard of for most of our evolutionary history.
If you look at other extremely strong and muscular creatures such as a gorilla or chimpanzee, they consume less than 15% of their overall calorie intake from protein sources, but still manage to be extremely strong and muscular by eating a high carbohydrate diet (well in excess of 70% of dietary intake). When combining this fact with the many studies that show that cancer risk increases as animal-based protein intake passes 10% of calories then I choose to aim for more moderate protein levels. I believe that from a short-term, results-focused perspective the protein vs carbohydrates levels are relatively interchangeable so long as the fat is kept low and the total calories remain the same. But from a long-term health and longevity perspective, high carbohydrate intake seems to be a winner as the longest living people in the world live off mainly sweet potatoes! While on the subject, I think it is important to address the origin of the “More is Better” belief regarding protein requirements within the fitness community. When bodybuilders take anabolic steroids the body is able to utilise more protein than it would normally be able to use in order to aid the excessive growth rates. However due to the stigma that using drugs is cheating not many bodybuilders are open about discussing their drug usage, therefore the elevated protein levels are claimed to be the “cause” of their progress, rather than an “effect” of their steroid use.
The scientific research shows most adults require about 0.8g of protein per KILOGRAM (kg) of bodyweight a day. For example, an 80kg male would need about 64g of protein a day. This information is often misquoted by American sources who tend to use POUNDS (lb) to measure weight. If you use the wrong unit of measurement then that 80kg male (which equals 176lbs) now requires 140g of protein daily (176 x 0.8 = 140). You can see how this common mistake would lead to elevated claims of high protein requirements. But if you’re not on the gear, then I doubt your body really needs it. This criticism aside*, there are many things I do agree with Greg Doucette on. Namely, keeping fat intake as low as possible and increasing the volume of meals while reducing the total calories. He has done a great job of spreading this approach and helping a great many people in the process. His YouTube Channel is a great database of creative recipe hacks and ideas.
One of the most famous of his recipes is his “Anabolic French Toast” Recipe which he and many others swear by as their favourite breakfast choice. Like many of his recipes this relies on A LOT of egg whites. I set about searching for a vegan version of this recipe as I really wanted to try it, but it seemed nobody had come up with one which maintained similar macronutrient properties. But after much experimentation I have finally cracked it! (no pun intended) and it has become one of my favourite breakfast recipes when I have a bit of extra time on a weekend. It's not as quick as my go-to Oatmeal or Smoothie Bowl breakfast options but considering how full it keeps you and how low the calories are, its definitely worth a little extra prep time if you are trying to lose weight. Heres the recipe....
Vegan “Anabolic French Toast” Recipe. The secret to replacing the egg whites it turns out is Chickpeas! Chickpeas are a healthy low-fat source of protein, and when blended up into a flour they can make a convincing egg substitute with just the addition of just a few spices: Turmeric for the yellow colour and Kala Namak (“Black Salt”) for the unique eggy smell. Alternatively a faster, more convenient way is just to keep some ORGRAN EASY EGG replacer in the cupboard as it will last for months. If I was making this every day I would make the base from scratch and save leftovers but because I tend to do it only once or twice a week then I stick with using the store bought powder as the recipe only requires 35g of it at a time.
For the french toast: 1 Cup Water (you may not need all of this)
4 slices of low-calorie wholemeal bread (I use Hovis Nimble)
1 tsp Cinnamon 1/4 Scoop Vanilla Protein Powder (Optional)
30ml zero-calorie Maple Syrup
For the Egg Replacer Mix: 120g Chickpeas (cooked and drained) 1/4 tsp Turmeric A dash of Kala Namak 1/2 tsp Xantham Gum (or other thickener, such as Cornstarch)
1) If you are using the store bought Orgran mix then skip this step. If not and you are home making the egg replacer then start off by rinsing and draining the already cooked chickpeas. You will need to dry them off on a paper towel so that the moisture doesn't cause it to stick together in the blender. Once dry you can blend this up into a flour (or just buy your own chickpea flour, also known as Gram flour or besan in some Indian stores). You can now add the spices and thickener and mix up this powder. You will have more than you need for this recipe and store the rest in a sealed container for next time.
2) Weigh out 35g of Egg Replacer powder in a low flat bowl, big enough to fit a slice of bread laying on the bottom as this is what we are going to dunk our toast in. Add the cinnamon and the vanilla powder (if you are using it) and mix it up.
3) Slowly add water little by little while whisking the mix together with a fork to stop any lump clumps forming until you have the right consistency. it should be fairly thick and sticky looking but still runny enough so that the bread can absorb some of the liquid into the airy holes of the bread in order for it to bond together.
4) Gently toast your slices of bread. This will dry them up a bit and make them firmer so that they hold their shape and don't fall apart while dunking in the egg mix. other French toast recipes call for bread that's been left a few days and is starting to go stale / hard, but I prefer a quick toast to get the same rigidity. 5) Heat up a frying pan, and lightly, and I mean very lightly rub a little bit of coconut oil across the surface so to reduce sticking. You barely need any, I just take a solid block of coconut oil and rub it against the warm surface once to provide a thin coating. Use any more than this and you are just adding unwanted fats (and therefore more calories) to the recipe. I usually cook without oils and just use water instead but it wouldn't work with this recipe if we want firm toast. 6) Dunk the toast into the egg mix for about 10 seconds on each side. You can push it down with a fork to get the liquid to soak into the holes in the bread. Don't leave it soaking for too long or you will end up with soggy toast and it will fall apart when lifting it out of the mix.
7) Place in the frying pan, you should be able to cook 2 slices at a time. Leave for about 2-3 minutes and when one side is dried up you should be able to flip the slices like pancakes with a spatula to dry out the other side.
8) Once both sides a dried up and looking more like cooked egg. You can take these slices off and put on to a plate while you get the next 2 slices on the pan.
9) Once all the slices are done, top with the blueberries, zero-calorie maple syrup, soya yoghurt and a dash more cinnamon and Enjoy!
If we look at the macronutrient breakdown I made for this recipe below, we can see that the recipe comes in at just under 400kcal for the whole plate of food. With 21 grams of protein, its not quite as "Anabolic" as Gregs original recipe with a slightly higher amount of carbs but personally I think this is more desirable. It's the closest version I have seen avoiding egg whites that maintains similar ratios without increasing the fat levels and tastes great. Let me know if you enjoy it!
*I just wanted to add a footnote to stating that I am not inferring that Greg or anyone else promoting his diet has used steroids as I do not know. The information provided is purely to provide an insight into the origin of these common beliefs rather than directly make claims about any individual person.